h1

Does a letter from a secretary create a Bahai Teaching?

July 18, 2015

“Unity of doctrine is maintained by the existence of the authentic texts of Scripture and the voluminous interpretations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, together with the absolute prohibition against anyone propounding “authoritative” or “inspired” interpretations or usurping the function of Guardian. Unity of administration is assured by the authority of the Universal House of Justice.” Universal House of Justice, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Netherlands, March 9, 1965: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 52-53

Imagine the very idea of adding more text and calling this a Bahai Teaching? Well when it comes to the topic of homosexuality, this is what some Bahais do. A man who calls himself Dr Johnson, who often comments on my blog, seems to also think that it is a “Bahai Teaching” that masturbation is a bad thing. And so…

I have published Dr Johnson’s comments (link to his comments) because there might be a few Bahais that share these views as to what is a Bahai Teaching. Most of these comments focus on adultery or cheating on one’s spouse, which has nothing to do with a committed same-sex marriage, but the point I wish to make is the he treats texts from letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as if these are Bahai Teachings and goes so far as to put Shoghi Effendi’s name underneath these.

In the future I will not allow any future comment on my blog where you (Dr Johnson) claim that something is a Bahai Teaching unless you provide a clear quotation from Bahai Scripture (link to what is Bahai Scripture). Expressing your views of the Bahai Teachings as your own personal point of view is fine. You have repeatedly ignored my request to distinguish between the lesser authority of a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi and what you call a Bahai Teaching and so I assume you are consciously doing this.

I am sure that you are aware of the following letter but here it is again: “I wish to call your attention to certain things in “Principles of Bahá’í Administration” which has just reached the Guardian; although the material is good, he feels that the complete lack of quotation marks is very misleading. His own words, the words of his various secretaries, even the Words of Bahá’u’lláh Himself, are all lumped together as one text.

This is not only not reverent in the case of Bahá’u’lláh’s Words, but misleading. Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages.

He feels that in any future edition this fault should be remedied, any quotations from Bahá’u’lláh or the Master plainly attributed to them, and the words of the Guardian clearly differentiated from those of his secretaries.”

Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community, p. 260

There are more letters expressing a similar view (link) – that a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi does not share the same authority as anything penned by Shoghi Effendi himself. And only the Guardian (Shoghi Effendi) was authorized by Abdul-Baha in his Will and Testament to make authorized interpretations of Bahai Scripture. Outside of this it is up to each of us to apply the Bahai Teachings as we think they should be applied and each of us is free to express our own interpretations as personal understandings. Added to this is the authority of the Universal House of Justice to make policy about the practice (social teachings) of the Bahai community. Their 2014 letter makes it clear that a same-sex married couple is not welcome to join the Bahai community let alone able to marry after they join the community. Although whether or not this policy is intended to override the Bahai teaching that the law of the land is to be respected and obeyed by Bahais is not clear to me. However this is Bahai policy not a Bahai Teaching. See my May blog (link) where I critique the first part of this letter by the Universal House of Justice.

So then I ask you and other Bahais who do likewise, why refer to these letters as if these are Bahai Teachings when we have plenty of scripture by Baha’u’llah as well the interpretations by Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi? It seems not only irreverent but actually wrong to place more emphasis on what is in a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi than on what is in Bahai Scripture. And to the point, if there is a contradiction between what is expressed in a letter and what is penned by Baha’u’llah, Adbul-Baha or Shoghi Effendi, then as a Bahai, I choose the later because the principles of justice and equality are more important than anything else.

The Book Lights of Guidance is not a source for Bahai Scripture and if you cannot see this, read my 2014 blog + screenshot here. If you wish to quote from this book and call this a Bahai Teaching, then find the original source in Bahai Scripture.

Here is another blog of mine (link) showing as much of the original context for the 5 letters that mention homosexuality (out of thousands that do not) as I can. Where the letters are shown in full it is very clear to me that the intent of these letters was advice or current policy or to share information but certainly never ever to be confused with the status of Bahai Scripture or a Bahai Teaching.

I will take just one example from something you wrote, Dr Johnson, to show you how in my view it goes against the Teachings of Baha’u’llah to add in letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as a source for a Bahai Teaching.

You wrote: “When we realize that Bahá’u’lláh says adultery retards the progress of the soul in the after life … “ This text is a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi and I critique this phrase in my September 2013 blog here because there is no source to be found to back up what the secretary wrote. I state that there is no source because if there was one it would be accessible and I am sure that I would have found it by now having access to texts in Persian or Arabic as well as English. The only way I would not have access is if there was a text at the World Centre where I do not have access. I do not think that this is likely since the only source to be found is in a letter penned by a secretary in English in 1949. In the comments underneath my September 2013 blog I refer to a text by Baha’u’llah that refers to punishments related to adultery and you made a comment there yourself lower down. So I assume you either forgot, ignored, or didn’t care that what the secretary wrote is not backed up by Bahai Scripture.

However Baha’u’llah did write “Be thou of the people of hell-fire, but be not a hypocrite.” (Cited in a compilation on Trustworthiness. Also in Compilation of compilations, Volume 2, page 337) which brings me to my next point.

The Bahai Teachings are: equality for all, justice for all, the principle of the independent investigation of truth and so on. See my blog which lists the major Bahai teachings. One of the Bahai Teachings is the distinction between social teachings which change over time, and Bahai teachings which do not change. I would agree with you that many Bahais currently think that a same-sex marriage between two Bahais is not possible and this social teaching is reinforced by the current policy of the Universal House of Justice which has the authority to make such policy. However what Bahais think or do is not the same as what is a Bahai Teaching. Only Baha’u’llah, Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi can state what is a Bahai Teaching. No one else can add in new teachings.

Finally, do you really think it is a Bahai Teaching that masturbation is a bad thing? You do not state this clearly in your comments, so that is why I am asking. If you wish to follow what is written in letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi personally as if these words have the same authority as Bahai Scripture, all good, but on my blog, I will not allow any more of your comments if you continue to confuse the distinctions between what is a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi and what is a Bahai Teaching.

I end with a quotation from the Universal House of Justice in relation to the book Lights of Guidance and note their emphasis on thinking for oneself and applying the Bahai Teachings as principles rather than taking the hellfire and damnation approach.

“The Universal House of Justice does not feel that the time has come for it to provide detailed legislation on subjects such as abortion, homosexuality and other moral issues. The principles pertaining to these issues are available in the book “Lights of Guidance” and elsewhere. In studying these principles, it should be noted that in most areas of human behaviour there are acts which are clearly contrary to the law of God and others which are clearly approved or permissible; between these there is often a grey area where it is not immediately apparent what should be done. It has been a human tendency to wish to eliminate these grey areas so that every aspect of life is clearly prescribed. A result of this tendency has been the tremendous accretion of interpretation and subsidiary legislation which has smothered the spirit of certain of the older religions. In the Bahá’í Faith moderation, which is so strongly upheld by Bahá’u’lláh, is applied here also. Provision is made for supplementary legislation by the Universal House of Justice — legislation which it can itself abrogate and amend as conditions change. There is also a clear pattern already established in the Sacred Scriptures, in the interpretations made by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, and in the decisions so far made by the Universal House of Justice, whereby an area of the application of the laws is intentionally left to the conscience of each individual believer.

This is the age in which mankind must attain maturity, and one aspect of this is the assumption by individuals of the responsibility for deciding, with the assistance of consultation, their own course of action in areas which are left open by the law of God.

It should also be noted that it is neither possible nor desirable for the Universal House of Justice to set forth a set of rules covering every situation. Rather is it the task of the individual believer to determine, according to his own prayerful understanding of the Writings, precisely what his course of conduct should be in relation to situations which he encounters in his daily life. If he is to fulfil his true mission in life as a follower of the Blessed Perfection, he will pattern his life according to the Teachings. The believer cannot attain this objective merely by living according to a set of rigid regulations. When his life is oriented towards service to Bahá’u’lláh, and when every conscious act is performed within this frame of reference, he will not fail to achieve the true purpose of his life.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1988 June 2005, `Detailed Legislation on Moral Issues´

17 comments

  1. Thanks Sonia. I found this so helpful!!!. You are doing an amazing job x


  2. Thanks P I didn’t realise that this link
    http://www.bahai.com/Bahaullah/introduction.htm was the source for you writing: “Shoghi Effendi said the Bab, Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l Baha are the Central Figures.”
    The text on the website about this reads:
    “The Bahá’í Faith revolves around three central Figures, the first of whom was a youth, a native of Shíráz, named Mírzá ‘Alí Muhammad, known as the Báb (Gate), who…”
    and the source listed below this is:
    Selections quoted in Remembrance of God: A Selection of Bahá’í Prayers and Holy Writings (India: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990)

    Initially I did not notice the title at the very top “Introduction by Shoghi Effendi” and now I went to check this because what is put on a website doesn’t automatically make it a source as far as I am concerned.

    I found two versions of the text, one with the sentence mentioning the central figures and one without this phrase which are both attributed to Shoghi Effendi. The one that includes the phrase is a 1947 statement prepared by Shoghi Effendi for the UN special committee on Palestine.

    The text on this page doesn’t say that these three are central figures but that “The Bahai Faith revolves around three central figures.” The meaning here is less black and white than how you have stated this, and is it clear that the context is of history.

    The context for my statement above “Only Baha’u’llah, Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi can state what is a Bahai Teaching.” is for Bahai teachings or doctrine where you can’t leave out Shoghi Effendi. It is true that The Bab’s Teachings are part of Bahai Teachings but I chose not to refer to the Bab because Baha’u’llah abrogated some of the Bab’s laws and this too complicated for an opening sentence. The text in my blog “link to what is Bahai Scripture” links to this text:
    Baha’is consider all verified writings authored by The Bab (1819-1850), Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) and ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1844-1921) and anything penned by Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957) himself where he made clear he was writing in his role as authoritative interpreter, as having the authority of scripture.

    I know I am sounding picky here but for me this is the ‘slippery slope’ where text could end up being treated as if it is teaching there are 3 prophets. In this context Shoghi Effendi is referring to the Bahai faith historically revolving around three central figures, not that the Bahai Faith has three central figures (not including Shoghi Effendi) who define the Bahai Teachings. I also think Shoghi Effendi would always be very clear about the distinctions in station between Baha’u’llah and Abdul-Baha and himself.


  3. H, you wrote: “I never understood why the letter about this distinction was itself “on behalf” of the Guardian.”

    I agree, things would be much clearer or easier if Shoghi Effendi had penned something along these lines himself. I have looked long and hard and found nothing except in letters written on his behalf. So I have come to the conclusion that Shoghi Effendi probably decided that all matters of a lesser status be handled by the secretaries including questions about just what the status of these letters are. I think that the silence shows how unimportant in relation to the Bahai teachings, Shoghi Effendi considered these letters to be (the lesser status). I state this because I think Shoghi Effendi was deliberate about his actions.


  4. It seems to me that you have selected parts of the Guardian’s comments which suit your argument and ignored others that do not.

    First, the Guardian states and obvious point: “although the material is good, he feels that the complete lack of quotation marks is very misleading. His own words, the words of his various secretaries, even the Words of Bahá’u’lláh Himself, are all lumped together as one text.” When quoting from sources one cannot lump together different writers without using appropriate quotation marks to identify the different sources.

    Second, he does state another obvious point:”their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages.” Clearly, the writing style (his was inimitable) and exact words of the secretaries will be different from the Guardian’s and their authority less.

    Third, however you use these comments to ignore the validity of all letters written on the Guardian’s behalf. This cannot be the case as he clearly states that despite his caveats, these letters by his secretaries “convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative.” Note: they convey “his thoughts and instructions” and are “authoritative.” You have completely ignored this in your analysis of the status of the letters. Authoritative means 1. having or proceeding from authority, official; 2. clearly accurate or knowledgeable. – all of which is consistent with the Guardian’s assertion that the letters “convey his thoughts and instructions.”

    You further buttress your argument you affirm that what the secretaries wrote have to be buttressed by Bahai scripture. This ignores the whole purpose of Abdu’l-Baha’s appointment of a Guardian which was to interpret Bahai scripture and guard the Faith from schism. This is known as the Lesser Covenant.

    Your argument is further undermined by the fact that the House of Justice has quoted from letters written on behalf of the Guardian in numerous communications which is quite understandable in view of the aforementioned points. Indeed, it has access to letters from secretaries to which the Guardian added postscripts in his own handwriting. So it seems to me that in discarding these letters entirely your argument is not as rigorous from an analytical perspective as it could have been. We cannot simply ignore letters which the Guardian himself deemed authoritative and which he clearly stated conveyed his thoughts and instructions and which are quoted by the House in its communications with the Bahai world.


    • Roland, this is my blog and it is important to me that Bahais do not knowingly mis -attribute anything penned by a secretary writing on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. So this is your first warning. In any future comment on my blog, please make this distinction clear and do not refer to these letters as if they were written by the Guardian.

      I do not discard these letters, i attempt to treat them as I think Shoghi Effendi intended as having a lesser status than anything he wrote himself and it seems to me that these letters were intended for the addressee.

      You wrote: “We cannot simply ignore letters which the Guardian himself deemed authoritative” – Authorative for which purpose? For a particular time and place? I wouldn’t know but all I know is that it is picking and choosing to treat a few letters (in most discussions with Bahais such as yourself it tends to boil down to the 5 which damn homosexuality) as if they have the same authority as anything penned by Shoghi Effendi while treating letters on other topics as if this is advice, or of a lower status or as advice for the addressee. I would say IF these letters are intended to have the authority of scripture then Shoghi Effendi would have made this clear. I have only been able to find 3 letters which refer to the status of these letters in some manner and all 3 stress that these letters should be treated differently (a lower authority or as advice for the addressee). One letter states that Shoghi Effendi read each letter, but reading does not equal authorship.

      How are these letters treated? There are thousands of these letters. I only keep hearing of the 5 that damn homosexuality in some manner but the one that tells us that Bahais must not use any form of birth control is clearly ignored.

      Would Shoghi Effendi leave it up to secretaries to pen what would be then used as authorative for the whole Bahai community? To be used on par with scripture?

      The UHJ has the authority to make policy in any manner it chooses to, and to refer to any text it chooses to, but the UHJ cannot tell the Bahais how to interpret Bahai Scripture. So if you wish to make any argument about what is Bahai Teaching in terms of this being part of Scripture, please use this. Letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi do not become part of Bahai Scripture because the UHJ might refer to these in its policy.


  5. Justabahai, I am not sure why you felt the need to warn me and to become so upset. Nowhere in my post do I “refer to these letters as if they were written by the Guardian.” Could you provide me with a quote from what I have written to substantiate your claim?

    You referenced what is clearly a very important statement by the Guardian which we should be able to discuss objectively with mutual respect. In regard to this statement you stressed the section which stated: ”their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages.” At no point did I disagree with this or imply that the letters had the same status as what the Guardian wrote. On the contrary, I wrote: “Clearly, the writing style (his was inimitable) and exact words of the secretaries will be different from the Guardian’s and their authority less.”

    All I did do was to focus on what seemed to be an equally important dimension of his statement which was that despite the aforementioned caveats which you focus on the Guardian nonetheless stated that the letters were “authoritative” and “conveyed his thoughts and instructions”. That seems to me to be the reason the House uses some of them in its elucidations and other communications. You ask for what purpose were they authoritative. I suggest that you refer this to the House of Justice.

    It seems that it was my focus on these words which is what upset you. However, we cannot quote one section of sentences from a paragraph and attach great importance to it as criteria for discussion and ignore another section and dismiss its importance re any relevance to another set of criteria.

    Further, I wasn’t thinking about homosexuality as there are thousands of letters written by the Guardian’s secretaries on a vast number of topics. For example, in many of these letters the Guardian interprets the meaning of many passages in the scriptures and others including the Bible. I was focusing solely on the doctrinal implications of your claim – which are far reaching for many topics other than homosexuality – since it would be too simplistic in my view to dismiss them all as having no validity at all when the Guardian himself states they are “authoritative.” He was extremely careful in his choice of words as you well know.

    After noting your response, I did a quick search in Google and found the following within 10 seconds: http://bahai-library.com/uhj_letters_behalf_guardian

    Please note the reference to “authoritative” and to this statement: In a postscript appended to a letter dated 7 December 1930, written on his behalf to an individual believer, Shoghi Effendi described the normal procedure he followed in dealing with correspondence written on his behalf:

    “I wish to add and say that whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule.”

    Now clearly there are some letters which he did not approve or review such as was the case with the specific letters by Mr Ioas but if we are to examine such issues with analytical rigor it does not seem to me be the most prudent course of action to simply dismiss all letters by the Guardian’s secretaries on his behalf. This would be too dogmatic and risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If you disagree that is fine by me as I prefer to refer such issues to the House for clarification such as was done by the person who submitted the matter to the House thereby eliciting its 2006 response.


  6. Roland, the reason I made my comment: “Roland, this is my blog and it is important to me that Bahais do not knowingly mis -attribute anything penned by a secretary writing on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. So this is your first warning. In any future comment on my blog, please make this distinction clear and do not refer to these letters as if they were written by the Guardian.”
    was because you wrote “First, the Guardian states an(d) obvious point:” and then “Second, he does state another obvious point:” and both times you are referring to a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. This is why I made my comment. I will respond to other points you raise, later on.


  7. Thanks for that clarification. I should have been more precise as I note on reading the passage you quoted again that it is indeed a letter written on the Guardian’s behalf and not by him personally.

    I am confused now though re your position. On the one hand, you assert that letters written on behalf of the Guardian are not authoritative and you strongly object to people quoting from letters written on his behalf, as if it was written by him, to support their points. This is why you warned me and objected to my incorrect reference to the letter as something he himself stated. But on the other hand, you quoted from this letter written on his behalf to justify and support your own point re such letters having lesser authority. This seems to me to be inherently contradictory.

    One would assume that, for the sake of consistency, if you are stipulating that letters written on his behalf cannot be used as a basis for supporting points, then the logical assumption would be that you could only have quoted from text written by the Guardian himself. However, what you have quoted is a letter on his behalf so, ipso facto, according to your own criteria and position, it cannot support your point anymore than quoting from letters written on his behalf would support other points written about any other topic.


    • i suggest that you read my blog Roland https://justabahai.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/does-a-letter-create-a-bahai-teaching/#comment-3261

      hopefully then it will be clearer. I do not state that these letters have no authority, so please stop writing “On the one hand, you assert that letters written on behalf of the Guardian are not authoritative” – I do not. I think they have a lesser authority because this is what is stated in a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi.
      If Shoghi Effendi had penned anything in his own hand on the status of these letter, for sure, I would be quoting this. As far as I know he didn’t. So all I can do is refer to the three letters which discuss the status of these letters. Clearly they must not be that important in terms of status or authority or in relation to the teachings or else Shoghi Effendi would have made time to write something in his own hand. He didn’t. He left this up to the secretaries.

      That is not being inconsistent. But I am clear that I am quoting letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi which do have a lowerer authority or status, when I do this. The problem is that you were claiming this was written by Shoghi Effendi and to quote you, yes I do “strongly object to people quoting from letters written on his behalf, as if it was written by him, to support their points.” Wouldn’t anyone object if someone mis-attributes a quotation?


  8. “Does a letter from a secretary create a Bahaí teaching?” You are not on slippery slope here as you have already fallen down the slope.

    You write an entire article to prove that a letter from a secretary on behalf of the Guardian does not create a Bahai teaching. You then reference a letter from a secretary on behalf of the Guardian in The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community to create your own Bahai teaching that this is so!

    This makes no sense whatsoever.


    • Homa, in that let’s just call it a mystery for you. At least the person labelled H in the comments above understood my blog.


  9. Sonja, I hope you this will give you some clarity: http://bahai-library.com/uhj_letters_behalf_guardian

    Three Excerpts: 1. With regard to your questions about the authority of letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, particularly those sent from the Holy Land during the latter part of his ministry, there is no justification for summarily dismissing the authoritative guidance contained in this body of correspondence. If concerns arise in relation to specific messages or topics addressed, clarification can be sought from the Universal House of Justice.

    2. In a postscript appended to a letter dated 7 December 1930, written on his behalf to an individual believer, Shoghi Effendi described the normal procedure he followed in dealing with correspondence written on his behalf:

    I wish to add and say that whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule.

    Given the Guardian’s categorical assertion, it follows that any “exception” to “this rule” would require his explicit permission. For example, in the latter years of his ministry, Shoghi Effendi assigned to the Hand of the Cause Leroy Ioas the special responsibility for monitoring the progress of the goals of the Ten Year Crusade. In implementing this specific function, Mr. Ioas worked under the close supervision of the Guardian; however, not all of his letters–for example, those simply requesting information about the goals–were viewed by Shoghi Effendi before being transmitted.

    3. Note that the letters written on behalf of the Guardian are also described as being “authoritative”. No additional information has, to date, come to light on this subject.


    • Roland you quoted “I wish to add and say that whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing.” (letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 7 December 1930)

      There is a difference between reading and approving letters, of a lower status, and authoring.

      You seem to be assuming that because Shoghi Effendi, as stated in a letter written on his behalf, “read and approved” all these letters than then their status has a higher authority than stated in the following letters.

      “The exact status which Shoghi Effendi has intended the friends to give to those communications he sends to individual believers is explained in the following statement… He has also said that whenever he has something of importance to say, he invariably communicates it to the National Spiritual Assembly or in his general letters. His personal letters to individual friends are only for their personal benefit and even though he does not want to forbid their publication …” (1932)

      “I wish to call your attention to certain things in “Principles of Bahá’í Administration” which has just reached the Guardian; although the material is good, he feels that the complete lack of quotation marks is very misleading. His own words, the words of his various secretaries, even the Words of Bahá’u’lláh Himself, are all lumped together as one text. This is not only not reverent in the case of Bahá’u’lláh’s Words, but misleading. Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages. He feels that in any future edition this fault should be remedied, any quotations from Bahá’u’lláh or the Master plainly attributed to them, and the words of the Guardian clearly differentiated from those of his secretaries.”
      Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 25 February 1951 in The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community, p. 260)

      I do not have time to untangle which of the above are your own views and which are quotations from letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. If you comment again, please do as I do, put quotation marks around what is a quotation and add the source underneath.

      I repeat: reading a letter is not the same as giving it Scriptural authority.

      “Whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule.”

      This was a Letter sent to an individual on 7 Dec 1930, cited in a letter from the UHJ 22 oct, 1996.

      This letter was a response to this:

      “Can you make a statement which would establish the authenticity of your letters written by Ruhi or Soheil with your P.C. [sic] attached. There are still some people who continue to feel that these letters are not authorized by you and only express the personal opinions of the above writers.”

      (The Universal House of Justice, 1996 Oct 22, Authentication and Authority)

      Knowing what the letter was responding to means that it is clear that the purpose of the response was to assert some general level of authority to the letters.

      The point here is to assure the addressee that there is some authority so Shoghi Effendi didn’t need to write such letters himself but I would never assume this to mean it is authoritative interpretation on par with Shoghi Effendi’s station as the Guardian. If you might think there is a conflict of meaning with the 1930 letter and the ones written in 1932 and 1951, then I would say, give the latter letters priority as conditions must have changed.


  10. Appealing to “H” having “understood ” your blog does not make it correct as this is simple logic which H may not be capable of understanding.

    If you argue consistently in your various blogs that Pilgrim’s Notes, for example, cannot be used to justify a viewpoint re homosexuality as those posting would be equating Pilgrim’s Notes with scripture, and you vehemently condemn those who do it, you cannot then reference a Pilgrim Note to support your own argument. You have taken a very strong and consistent position against the use of letters on behalf of the Guardian so you cannot then use such a letter to support your viewpoint.

    This lapse in logical consistency would be obvious to most casual readers without my even having to point out that it makes no sense. In any case, it is clear that such letters are authoritative and read and approved by the Guardian with only a few exceptions which is clearly why the House has used them in its elucidations of homosexuality and other topics.


    • Homa you are incorrect. I have not ” have taken a very strong and consistent position against the use of letters on behalf of the Guardian ” – What my position is, is that if any Bahai wants to treat these letters as anything more than being intended as advice for the addressee, then that Bahai should not pick and choose. That Bahai should not select just those 5 letters that mention homosexuality and elevate these letter to a higher authority or status while ignoring the advice in the thousands of other letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi.
      Your words “In any case, it is clear that such letters are authoritative” with nothing to back this up is not an argument. If you or even many Bahais or even the UHJ refer to these letters as if they are authorative in the sense of being like laws for Bahais today to follow, then this usage doesn’t change the status that Shoghi Effendi intended for these letters. I am not claiming to know what Shoghi Effendi’s intentions were. All I am doing is looking at what was and was not penned by Shoghi Effendi.

      I repeat, IF Shoghi Effendi had mentioned one word about the status of these letters in his own hand, you can be assured that I would be quoting this. There is not anything so it is a case of doing second best, see if any of these letters say anything about who they are intended for or how they are to be used while making it absolutely clear that I am only referring to a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi while making this argument.

      There is a difference between using a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as historical evidence and using it as doctrine. So back to my blog above, a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi cannot create new doctrine. And I have not done this in referring to those three letters that refer to these letters having a lesser status or authority.


  11. Justabahai, I have to agree that using a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as the basis for your argument is a double standard when you are telling others not to do it.
    If I had a science blog and told (and warned!) people posting not to use articles that were not peer reviewed how could I then justify using a non peer reviewed article myself as the basis for my blog? That would be a clear double standard. Shouldn’t I use only peer reviewed articles to support my arguments?
    I don’t care what H says. You cannot call it a “mystery” for Homa as it is very obvious what you have done and not at all a “mystery” for her or anyone who has read your reference to the Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community, p. 260.


    • I repeat, IF Shoghi Effendi had mentioned one word about the status of these letters in his own hand, you can be assured that I would be quoting this. There is not anything so it is a case of doing second best, see if any of these letters say anything about who they are intended for or how they are to be used while making it absolutely clear that I am only referring to a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi while making this argument.

      There is a difference between using a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as historical evidence and using it as doctrine. So back to my blog above, a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi cannot create new doctrine. And I have not done this in referring to those two letters that refer to these letters having a lesser status or authority.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: